• Abuse and Fifty Shades of Manipulation…

So… I’m probably going to make a lot of people mad with this post. I have quite a few dear friends who are in love with the trilogy, but I can’t keep smiling and nodding anymore… because, I feel quite alarmed that no one seems to pick up on the level of abuse that is in 50 Shades of Grey.

Even if you LOVED the book, I’m asking you to please read this post and consider what the book is promoting. Even if you HATE this post, please – think about it and comment below. This is the kind of open conversation we need to start having with each other.

I assume not many lovers of the trilogy have noticed or commented on the abuse in the books because they haven’t been in an abusive relationship, don’t see the signs, and romanticize it by saying, “wouldn’t I love to be dominated like that?” Or at least I hope that’s the reason… In which case, let me point out some of the signs to you:

Abuse and 50 Shades of Manipulation

If you are looking for specifics in the book, I read this AMAZING post earlier today that details 50 Abusive Moments that happen throughout the story (and that list is, sadly, not even conclusive.) I am not going to detail out those specific moments (The Rambling Curl does a great job in the post highlighted above, so if you want the list… check it out), but I did want to make a few points.

This is by no means a commentary on BDSM (whose motto, by the way, is “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” – everything Mr. Grey is not). If you want to read a great blog on that, visit: Safe, Sane and Consensual: The Missing Philosophies in the 50 Shades of Grey Series.

There is a difference between sexuality and the objectification and sexualization of women. Anastasia Steele is an object to be owned and manipulated, according to Mr. Grey. He can do with her as he pleases, treat her as he pleases and talk to her as he pleases. This is a remarkably unhealthy relationship.

There is an idealized and romanticized view that being treated this way as a woman is desirable. We hear stories of a boyfriend beating someone up because they looked at his girl the wrong way and the first thought is often, “Oh, how sweet… he’s jealous.” Holy cow, let’s put on the breaks! That kind of obsessive, controlling, quick tempered-ness is foundation to many (if not most) of abuse cases. There is nothing romantic about someone believing that they own you… own what you can do, who you can talk to, or where you can do. I mean, that’s basically slavery, right?! Didn’t we outlaw that for a reason? Why would we volunteer to have that kind of “ownership” in our relationships?

E.L. James tries to make Anastasia Steele look like a heroine. In the book where she “stands up” to Christian Grey (eye roll), what she really ends up doing is tearing herself down to try and appease him, which is exactly what this manipulative douche-bag wants her to do. She spends huge portions of the book declaring her unworthiness to be with such an “awesome guy.” Anastasia is not a heroine, she is NOT someone we should want to be like. She is abused, naive, hurt, and torn down. She doesn’t even see the own abuse that’s happening. (I can relate, I was in her shoes once.)

5 Things 50 Shades of Grey Teaches and Why It's Abusive

Christian Grey is “redeemed”… just kidding. (Though I’ve heard this argument so many times). James makes him look good because of the glamour of his THINGS. He’s so shiny… look at his cars, and his mansion, and his yacht, and his MONEY…. be distracted by his nice body… look away from the bruises and the scars he leaves behind. Ignore the way he makes you feel. Forget about how little you are in his presence and the tears you hide in your pillow at night. Those pretty green papers will make you forget all the pain. It’s like a drug – be distracted from the pain for a temporary high.

This novel supports abuse, rape and rape culture. (You really don’t think that he raped her in the first book, when he takes her virginity after she says no?! Isn’t that EXACTLY what rape is? Because she “liked” it afterwards, that makes it okay… or is that just what all rapists say?) The sad thing is, the biggest fan base for this book is the very people that rape culture hurts the most… women. Women are eating this book up like it’s the greatest thing on earth, but it’s basically poison hidden inside a really pretty cupcake. If you want a GREAT romance novel, there are a plethora out there to choose from… ones that are consensual, with a *ahem* GREAT plot, that are WRITTEN WELL and fully support women. This is not one of them.

Oh, and for one last dig… not sure what they are gonna do about the movie, there wasn’t really much of an actual plot in any of these books.

50 Shades not 50 Dollars - Boycott of 50 Shades of Grey movie

So… now what?! Well, we really need to stop promoting this kind of abuse in pop culture – first of all. There are a few great movements that are doing this, one of which I stumbled across while researching for this post is called 50 Dollars Not 50 Shades. They are suggesting that we donate to women’s shelters or other organizations fighting domestic abuse instead of spending our dollars on the movie. Our dollars matter, where we spend our money shows what we support…. think about what your money is saying.

So what are your thoughts? I would love to hear what you have to say – whether you totally agree or disagree with my post.

XOXO,

Danie

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31 thoughts on “Abuse and Fifty Shades of Manipulation…

  1. Simone

    I completely agree with you! I read the book because so many of my female friends recommended it to me and wouldn’t stop going on about how ‘dreamy’ Grey was (and it was like nine bucks from Big W. It’s since gone to the op shop). I was appalled when I read it! I stopped when I got up to her signing a ‘contract’ on what she would wear, eat, say, go etc. That is absolutely not normal!
    A popular morning show host criticised the film heavily and some of the comments on the video were crazy – women defending Grey because he was ‘abused as a child’ and saying that completely justified his behaviour, and how it’s a ‘brilliant’ book because why else would it sell millions of copies? (Um probably because of all the sex scenes ladies – people are perves and they wanted to read them no matter how disgusting and poorly written the book was?)
    I’m also a little gobsmacked that more people don’t see everything you’ve detailed above in the story whatsoever. Really happy to see at least SOME people see it for what it really is!
    Great post and keep up the good work! :)

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Thank you so much! I would like to see that video. It’s amazing how many people justify current abusive behavior by past abuse, but doesn’t that just perpetuate the abuse cycle? We can’t help what happens to us as kids, but we can help what choices we make. Justifying his behavior is not okay. Also, there are much better romance novels if someone just wants to perve out. Lol

      Reply
  2. Anung V

    I agree. I write Erotica and this is not how Dominance is suppose to be. It is ultimate trust. The Dominant is suppose to take care of the Submissive, not tell them what they “need”. Also, that woman is not “heroine”. She is a pushover and perpetuates that women “should” lessen their-selves for their men.

    Reply
  3. catarina

    You have seen an injustice in the world and youhave said something and for that I thank you. Only the other day I was raising aawareness about human trafficking and this book seems to promote that. I believe we can change the world by moulding the future generations. But if they are reading material like this they are being moulded to continue the atrocities in trafficking. Keep posting your outrages. Even if you have everyone against you. Speaking out the truth is the most valuable thing anyone can do. God bless.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Thank you so much!! I love that you’re bringing awareness to human trafficking, it’s such a sneaking and suprisingly prevelant thing in our society (scary!) It’s one of those issues that we always think, “Oh, that’s happening over THERE,” but really, it’s happening right in our own back yard!! God bless you!

      Reply
  4. KayDee

    ~~ kudo’s to you and I see it as a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to increase awareness! In fact I just challenged “50” of my fb friends to support #50DollarsNot50Shades and donate to local Domestic Violence Shelters!! I’m a 25+ year survivor myself so it gave me an awesome opportunity to support helping my sisters who haven’t yet begun their journey to freedom and for the ones already on their way!! #formysisters

    Reply
    1. Danie

      WOW! That’s awesome! Good for you! It’s such a victory when we can use our past struggles to become a beacon of hope for others! You are awesome! Thank you for sharing and challenging 50 of your friends!!

      Reply
  5. Laura

    I’ve read the books before, and honestly (as an author myself), the character of Christian, while I’m not interested in that at all, whatsoever, he’s really kind of an interesting character study. I mean, the guy goes through shit and I understand how things can make you become certain ways, but, personally, I’d never be interested in that.
    I also love reading these books as a “Not what to do to your characters” kind of thing.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Yes! I agree, he is an interesting character study. Sadly, I know people personally who have gone through horrible things (like him) and have let those things control their decisions in the future… often to the destruction of the life that they want to live. I’ve also seen people go through some really rough things and chose well, chose to let it propel them forward, rather than hold them back. Life is full of choices, and it’s sad that his character gets to use those things that happen to him as an excuse to act the way he does… what kind of books do you write?

      Reply
  6. Hannah

    I know one of my besties is planning on going to see the film (and has posted a couple of times about it on FB). Admittedly I’ve not read the book and to be frank there are plenty of other books out there that I’d like to read before wasting my pennies on a book like that. I struggle to see the attraction tbh.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      It is not a book I would recommend, for sure! I’ve read so many other romance novels that are better written, have a better plot and promote a healthy (albeit very steamy) relationship view.

      Reply
  7. Jana

    Who cares? It’s a story that somebody wrote. If all author’s filtered their creativity to please the masses, then books would be boring. “Oh look, another story about a perfect relationship that ended with rainbows and butterflies.” Because that’s realistic. I assume you were also critical of Twilight in the same respect. Since you know…there are tons of people in healthy relationships with vampires. This inspires me to write a piece….maybe “Fifty Shades of Bored Social Media Critics.”

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Well… I care and I think a lot of abuse survivors also care. There is a difference between an unhealthy relationship and glorifying an abusive one. Especially, when this book is so widely accepted as an idealized relationship. It’s sending the wrong message. It’s also not about an author filtering their creativity… or pleasing the masses. I mean, clearly the masses were pleased with this book. That’s really the scariest part. The book is FILLED with abuse, consent was sketchy on more than one occasion and yet women chase after this. We live in a rape culture. This is exactly what perpetuates that rape culture.

      Reply
  8. Vicky

    I agree with you completely!! I read the trilogy and I didn’t see what all the hype was about. Yes…there was a lot of sex, but like you said…it’s abuse!! I found nothing remotely ‘sexy’ about it all. I get that Anastasia was consensual in the ‘relationship’ but I still don’t think it excuses that type of behavior. Obviously she some issues that need to be dealt with! Someone with confidence in themselves would never put up with that and he prays on those that are weaker, which is just wrong. I have NO desire to see the movie! Thank you for such a wonderful post in contradiction to all of the hype!

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Thank you for your comment! And, it’s funny, the first stage of abuse is typically to demolish that person’s self confidence. It’s scary how much Anastasia belittles herself throughout the book! Thank you so much for your comment! :-)

      Reply
  9. lderringer

    I haven’t read the series and don’t plan to. Initally it was just because the storyline isn’t something that I’m interested in, but I decided to start doing a little research as to what the whole plot line is. I was so surprised to when I read it. I feel like the whole plot line screams different forms of abuse. I don’t understand how more people don’t see that too. Thanks for sharing this! I’ll ne interested to read the articles you linked to.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Thank you! You should definitely check out the other articles. I think the “steaminess” is a big distraction too, and that’s how a lot of people miss it! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  10. Shawna

    In all honesty I just don’t understand it. I tried reading it and like a lot of people, was disgusted at the misogynist main character. I honestly think for most women, it’s not about Mr. Grey himself, but the sexual acts that riles them up. I never finished or even got through the first book, but it was a little like the Cosmo hot reads. Women like things to be spiced up now and then and I have heard this book actually has done wonders from couples sex lives. And this is without the man reading it or obtaining a Mr. Grey persona.

    I am an avid reader of Cosmo and from what I can tell, women don’t want everything to always be vanilla. People sometimes think that if I women wants to be sexy and different it makes her a slut and that the man she is doing it for is a manipulator. I think if she wants to be sexy for someone she likes/loves then go for it. If I dress up or do something new, it’s not because my husband commanded me to, it’s because I WANT to.

    The BDSM culture and sex rituals has been around for ages. I don’t see many people batting an eye when Jofferey from Game of Thrones sexually beats two women, or that there is TONS of rape in that. Eyes Wide Shut took rituals and weirdness to a new level. Rihanna even has a song about BDSM. It’s just a different culture. As someone who has personally seen the effects of domestic abuse, I can totally see your point that Mr. Grey takes it too far. Mr. Grey is a powerful man and the chick(whatever her name is) is an enabler. Not everything involving BDSM and that stuff is directly correlated to abuse. My friend received a whip on her bachelorette party…does that make her a domestic abuser? No, it makes her a loving wife who likes to spice things up at times. The person behind the act and the actual act needs to be looked at separately.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head. Many women are stuck in a vanilla sex life and want to experiment with something “racier.” Whether they don’t because they are too nervous to, or their partner isn’t interested, or for some other reason – they are drawn to this story because the sex scenes (for the most part) are well written… and can be really sexy! BDSM itself can be very sexy and great for the people involved (again, one of their biggest things is consent and discussing what’s going to happen before-hand)… and there are TONS of books that are a much better read that involve BDSM.

      I think the biggest issue I have is that this relationship is presented as “ok” or “healthy” from the book’s perspective. I haven’t seen Game of Thrones (*gasp* – I know, it’s on my queue) but I imagine that rape scenes and abuse isn’t glorified? I assume it’s projected as something that is happening that’s not okay. (Am I right? It’s just a guess since I haven’t seen it). I also can’t speak to Eyes Wide Shut, which I also haven’t seen. I know Rihanna’s song is about BDSM, but I don’t think it highlights abuse of any kind.

      And yes – I think whatever spouses want to do (as long as it’s consensual) then party on! Your friend got a whip – sexy! I’m sure that will be fun for them… Dressing up – Heck Yeah! I totally support women’s sexuality and healthy sexuality in marriage! I think that’s AWESOME! I think this book just did a terrible job of portraying what healthy sexuality is.

      Thanks so much for your comment! You made some really great points!

      Reply
  11. Hollie

    I used to read this kind of rubbish on a regular basis back in my “wild days”. I was shocked and absolutely disgusted that this trash became a best seller – I haven’t read it and I never would, but from what I’ve heard and from my own experience this is the kind of book that should have had a plain white cover and black text- available online only for “special” audiences”.

    Reply
  12. Keri. N

    It’s such a weird thing to me, the whole 50 shades phenomenon. I tried to read the book for the sake of being culturally relevat but actually got bored of the horrible writing even after reading the first sex scene. After more thought, yes I saw the weirdness of the objectification seeping through. It’s definitely one woman’s fantasy of glamorised dominance. Like, good on you for being proud of your sexual side but it’s been taken out of hand in my opinion, and yes I agree the abusive nature of it goes straight over most people’s heads. You have to ask yourself, if the BDSM community actually has the option to just hitch a ride on the bandwagon and break the stigma they have to deal with normally, but instead choose to say it’s inaccurate in every way you say here about the lack of consent and respect, then you’ve stripped away what makes it safe etc. and its simply abuse. And then it’s also disrespectful to the seriousness and legitimacy of abuse in real life.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      Absolutely!! You are so right! (The poor writing could be a post all on its own, lol!) But, what you said about the BDSM community is dead on. From what I know of them (I have a few friends in that community) everything is talked about and consented to, there are multiple safe words or ways to stop, and it’s a very safe space. If someone is uncomfortable or upset – everything stops immediately. And I absolutely agree – this type of writing, and glorification of abusive relationships, does disrespect the seriousness and legitimacy of abuse in real life! Thanks so much for your comment!

      Reply
  13. Valaree Darling (@msvaldarling)

    Great post. I don’t know many women who’ve read this personally but I can’t believe it’s being made into a movie. And unfortunately a blockbuster one at that. It’s so sad that as women, we’ve been taught that certain abusive traits are desirable. They are not and we should be talking about it more openly. If you want to read erotica – do it. Just read something that promotes a healthy relationship. Not this garbage. Thanks for pointing out 50 Dollars Not 50 Shades. I hadn’t heard of it.

    Reply
    1. Danie

      YES!! Everything you said!! And there are of better erotica options out there – better written, more accurate details, and that promote a healthy relationship! Thank you for your comment! :-)

      Reply
  14. avalentin574

    This was an extremely thought out and well articulated argument towards a huge culture craze. As someone who read the series I initially found it to be smut covered in sprinkles. Then I started to question why someone would keep going back to someone who causes pain although that questioning lead me to learn more about a world I never knew existed it also causes mixed signals on whats ok and not ok for the uneducated minds. And trust me, there are a millon. BDSM isnt just hitting your partner during sex because you simply can or enjoy it. Its a powerful and consensual act that has many precautions and well thought out measures. Great post! Well done!

    Reply
    1. Danie

      I love this comment! It’s so true, it’s a terrible representation of sexuality or BDSM! Great things can happen between two people, when it’s in a safe and consensual environment. This book promotes the opposite.

      Reply

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